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I GREATLY ENCOURAGE THIS RIGHT NOW
It so happens that a young man, usually a navy officer, accompanies the president where ever he goes. This young man has a black attache case wich contains the codes that are needed to fire nuclear weapons.
I can see the president at a staff meeting considering nuclear war as an abstract question. He might conclude, “On SIOP Plan One, the decision is affirmative. Communicate the alpha line XYZ.” Such jargon keeps what is involved at a distance.
My suggestion them, is quite simple. Put that needed code number in a little capsule and implant that capsule right next to the heart of a volunteer. The volunteer will carry with him a big, heavy butcher knife as he accompanies the president. If ever the president wants to fire nuclear weapons, the only way he can do so is by first, with his own hands, killing one human being.
“George,” the president would say, “I’m sorry, but tens of millions must die.” The president then would have to look at someone and realize what death is - what an INNOCENT death is. Blood on the White House carpet: it’s reality brought home.
When I suggested this to friends in the Pentagon, they said, “My God, that’s terrible. Having to kill someone would distort the president’s judgement. He might never push the button!”
Adapted from “Preventing Nuclear War” by Roger Fisher, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March 1981 (via 21st-century-classical-liberal)
Other than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts, all nuclear detonations in history have been tests. Whatever other faults nuclear weapons have, their consequence is clear: Cities destroyed, thousands or millions of immediate deaths, millions of lingering deaths from cancer. Furthermore, the strategic calculus of a nuclear strike is total destruction. “When one flies, they all fly” has been the policy on nuclear launches since the 1950s. Since World War II, a nuclear warhead has never been launched as a warshot. I cannot say that will never change, but that’s the history.
The idea that having to add to the butcher’s bill with one person killed by the President’s hands will add any more deterrence to what is already a call fraught with practical checkpoints and moral difficulties is frankly insulting.